Once upon a time, when I was a sales manager, we always had the sales people develop their own plans. Why? Because when you develop a plan, you own it. When you own something an attachment is formed. Anyone knows the ties that are built between an owner and their possessions. Whether the possession is a physical object or an idea, it becomes something humans want to nurture, grow and develop to the best of its potential.
The lack of individual plans in organizations, small and large, is mystifying to me. Basically, we give the sales people a number and send them off to do the work of bringing in the company revenue. In essence, the most important job in the company.
Generally speaking (yes, unfortunately, sometimes we have to speak generally because otherwise our analysis would be lengthier and more complex), what the sales people have been charged with is solely the function of achieving more sales. This idea was further confirmed in December when I started an informal poll of 100 companies on the subject. One hundred out of one hundred companies told me that their sales people were given numbers (sometimes one number, other times a number by customer to grow). However, not one of them has sales people prepare a written plan to document their strategy.
How are they going to get to their number?
With this formula there are no ties to the company’s wider strategies and no incentives for activities that lead to results (vs. results alone); simply an order: sell.
Individual sales plans are roadmaps for sales people. Not only does it allow the sales people to feel connected to their work, and therefore raise productivity, but it is also the only way to grow your business on purpose.
An effective sales plan is an active document developed collaboratively between sales professionals and sales managers. It includes specific activities that will support achievement of company, department and individual goals.
After a thorough internal analysis and assessment of your general sales strategy, ask your sales people to answer these questions in their plan:
Who is your Ideal Buyer and why?
How will you find more Ideal Buyers?
What is your strategy to close more Ideal Buyers?
How will you use social media to market yourself and generate more leads?
Where can you increase revenue from existing customer base?
How will you get better conversion rates? Less effort, more customers.
Where are your risks? (competition, improve service to existing customers)
What is your referral plan?
Your sales peoples’ individual plans should be specific in terms of activities, with weekly goals that correlate with your company’s goals and expectations.
Planning is an ongoing process and this living document can change over time. Strategies that aren’t working need to be examined further. Be flexible, change the strategy, get a second opinion or you could even revise your strategy for each occasion.
Coaching your people to review their plan regularly and looking at their plans monthly can only advance their further improvement.
Tips for conversations with your sales team:
Review what is working in your plan and what is not.
Determine what goals need to be revised or renegotiated due to changing circumstances.
Ask sales people with winning strategies to mentor one other sales person that needs help with that strategy.
Be prepared to correlate activities with intentions and goals.
If you haven’t got your team set up with individual plans for 2018, it is not too late. Give me a call to inquire about my Second Half Sales Surge program. 1-646-535-1920.